Pretty nice consolation site when yours has been taken by an evacuee.
It was the best of days, it was the … not the best of days. I’ll start with the best. And just know that the not-the-best only gets as bad as we have electricity problems. All things considered, it’s not that bad. And the best was spectacular, so we’re still winning.
Perfect start to a perfect day
Richard got all systems go from the blue skies in the morning and all weather forecasts. We got an early start and hitched up, heading about six miles over to the town of Plummer to the start of the bike trail. The Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes is a rails-to-trails, fully paved multiuse trail that runs a little over 70 miles. It begins in Plummer and ends in Mullan, ID and is mostly flat.
Very popular ride
I was very happy to see so many other bikers at the staging area. There were organized groups heading out together and that would mean lots of extra support and gear in case anything went wrong. Richard always rides prepared, but I was very much hoping this would be a good day for him. The trailhead is on Ann Antelope Road, which we found funny because it sounds like “Ann Elk.” The Monty Python fans will understand.
The Coeur d’Alene River running extremely high.
I towed Dory up highway 95 through Coeur d’Alene and then headed east along 90 until the exit for Cataldo. The second section climbed over a pass of around three thousand feet, and it was distinctly more rugged feeling than the first part. It also had the only bad roads we have experienced outside of California. There were some breathtaking views of the lake along the way, but I didn’t try to take any pictures. All told, it was only about two hours for me, going in the slow lane, on a two-lane highway almost the whole way. I had frequent texts from Richard letting me know all was well.
No worries about fire safety here
When I got to the campground, I could immediately see that parts of it had flooded. There was one big RV that was parked and stabilized in several inches of water. The river looked very high and had flooded out some of the fire rings near the banks. There were also some dry camping sites in the grass that were now in the middle of a pond, but those had been evacuated. The campground manager approached, and it was clear he had been dealing with a lot in the past 48 hours. He explained that he had needed to evacuate someone from a flooded site at 2am and the only one free was site 3, ours. I really didn’t care and completely understood. He said I could pull forward onto the grass and he would see what he could figure out.
No. Way. Summer goal = met.
I stopped and started eating my lunch when I heard a commotion at the far end of the campground. Something very large and brown was coming directly at me in a hurry, and I had my wits about me enough to pull out my phone and get a few good pictures. There were two of them and one was bigger than the other. I wasn’t sure at all what I was seeing, but thought it seemed like a mother moose with her baby. But that seemed crazy. This was Idaho and I was unaware there were moose in this part of the country. Mama went by quickly and ran up and over the nearby bike trail. The younger one hung out for just a bit around the far side of the grassy area and seemed like he/she was checking out an RV. Mama came back after a few minutes, got her curious young’un, and the two of them disappeared into the bushes. I was left stunned and smiling. I walked over to the campground manager to ask what I had just seen, and he confirmed. Yep, he gets moose all the time in the campground, sometimes in groups up to a dozen. My whole trip was made right there.
I mean. Come on. That is just crazy.
Meanwhile, Richard was having the ride of his life. The southern end of the trail passes by lake after lake, and all of them were extraordinarily full. Since the trail is built on top of train tracks, the whole thing was raised above any possible flood lines. He went over a bridge to cross the Chatcolet Lake, and there were many shorter water crossings along the way. He took lots of pictures of the trail and spotted a turtle and a snake, but no moose. I was feeling pretty happy and decided to get my pretty blue bike off Dory and go meet him. At that point, he was only a few miles away and I knew he would be faster than me.
It just keeps going on like this.
I have never seen such a gorgeous bike trail. There was lush greenery, big, beautiful birds, and plentiful water features everywhere. Granted, it might have been especially nice just then, but that whole area is so beautiful. We met up a few miles from where I started and giddily rode back together. The trail literally runs right next to the campground. We capped the day with a delicious meal of Za’atar Spiced Chicken and Couscous with candied walnuts and fresh mint. What a day! An all-time high!
Highway 90, hugging the river
The next day Richard just started biking right from the campground to do the second half of the trail. I took a leisurely shower and set out to meet him in Mullan, ID, about thirty miles further east along 90. The highway follows a mountain valley along the path of the Coeur d’Alene River. Here, the bike trail is much closer to the highway and can be seen paralleling it in many places. Sometimes the trail went through old historic towns, like Kellogg and Wallace, before ending in Mullan. I had time to wait for him there and had great cell service, enough to upload pictures. He found me and reported that while the ride was great, it was not as scenic as the first half. There was a slow steady uphill grade the whole way, but the nice thing about following a rails route is that it is never going to be very steep.
I guess Idaho is lousy with moose.
He did have some excitement in that he got his very own moose viewing too! His was right outside the town of Wallace and there was a large brown creature munching shrubbery on the other side of a unreassuringly small fence. Richard waited a while and then continued down the path. The creature, who we both agree was a young male moose, trotted along with him! He could not tell exactly what the mood of the trot was, but he just kept riding faster until the moose gave up and presumably went back to munching. On the drive back, we went through Wallace to check it out, but no moose no more. The town was very cute and historic looking though.
Pull through site 3. With hookups. Except.. oh well. 🙁
We returned to Dory and our site was free. We decided to go ahead and move because we wanted to test the electrical hookups again. At first, we were super happy because everything turned on and seemed normal. We did systems checks of all the 110v outlets, microwave, and Truma on electric mode. All were showing normal status and the Xantrex converter seemed to be bulk charging the batteries. We made up some explanations for what might have happened, like maybe the wetness we saw in the outside outlet was tripping something, but mostly we were relieved everything was working properly, and decided to take a drive along the Scenic Byway on Highway 3.
This shows the bike trail and the scenic highway.
That route was another possible way I could have taken Dory from Heyburn to CDA while avoiding highways and the busy town of Coeur d’Alene. Our fact-finding mission, apart from being very pretty while following the river, told me that it would be a long drive up and over a low pass, with only two lanes, and no passing for many miles. We counted two places I could have pulled out to let cars behind me pass. I think, if the weather were bad, I would be interested in taking that route, but otherwise, I would stick to the highways.
Scenic Viewpoint on Highway 3
When we got back, the electrical sadness started. The Xantrex was no longer working properly and kept shutting off after a few minutes. For those who don’t know, the Xantrex converter is what controls recharging the batteries, either when we have campground hookups, or when we pull out the gas-powered generator. We have excellent solar panels that can do the job most of the time, but solar only works when there is sun. D’oh! We went through many tests and tried to be systematic about what we could say for sure in terms of where the issue might be. But the short version was that we had a problem and were getting closer to crossing the border and heading into a two week stretch of no hookups in the Rockies. With weather being as overcast as it was, this was a serious concern if we would not be able to fully recharge when we thought we could. We had limited cell service to do research on what repair or supply services we might be able to find in town, so the sun went down on two stressed out Sweeties.
Great campground. Kind of preferred dry camping on the grass.
Besides the electrical glitch, this was a perfect stay at a very nice campground. You can’t get any more riverfront than this place. There are clean bathrooms and showers in a little portable building. The campground manager is very nice and hospitable, even in the face of a flood. If we were going to do the CDA trail again, we’d do it in exactly the same way: we would stay two nights in Heyburn to start off, and move to this campground for the midway point. Richard says he might not be as interested in doing the second half again, but the first stretch was a definite E ticket ride. By the time we left, the river was beginning to recede and we could see the dramatic difference. Thankfully, nothing here seemed to have been damaged.
As for our current electrical woes, will Alissa sleep, knowing everything will probably be fine? Or will she freak out, catastrophize, and need extra extra wine? Will the Altoistes help us with diagnostics? Will Randy come to our rescue? Will we still be able to have our 12v espresso every morning and watch projector movies at night?? Tune in next post to find out!
Total miles from Heyburn: 68.1, 18.3 mpg, 2 hours 1 min. Site 3 (but first dry camped on the grass). Electric and water in pull through site. So-so cell for both of us with Verizon being a little stronger. Good dump.